The week at a glance 2005-03-07
WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES: THE WEEK AT A GLANCE Colorado Springs, CO -- March 7, 2005 WHAT: The J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals March 10 and 11 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a semi-banked half-mile oval. The two-night ...
WORLD OF OUTLAWS SPRINT SERIES: THE WEEK AT A GLANCE
Colorado Springs, CO -- March 7, 2005
WHAT: The J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals March 10 and 11 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a semi-banked half-mile oval. The two-night event runs Thursday and Friday leading into the speedway's annual NASCAR weekend. The Thursday night race is a 25-lap $5,000-to-win preliminary followed by Friday's 30-lap $12,500-to-win feature.
WHERE: Take I-15 northeast of Las Vegas to exit 54, then head east.
WHEN: Pit gates are slated to open at noon with spectator gates opening at 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Qualifying is set to begin at 7 p.m. (local) both nights with the A-mains scheduled for 9:15 p.m., depending on the length of time trials, qualifying heats, dashes and B-mains.
TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will broadcast coverage of the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals at 8 p.m. on March 23 and on March 30.
TICKETS: Prices range from $26.25 to $36.75 and can be purchased by going to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Web site (www.lvms.com), or by calling 1-702-644-4444 (in Nevada) or 1-800-644-4444 (outside Nevada).
WEB SITES: www.theworldofoutlaws.com and www.lvms.com.
ABOUT THE TRACK: The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is one of the premier tracks on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series schedule. The Outlaws raced at Vegas twice last year, with Steve Kinser sweeping the two-night event in March and Donny Schatz celebrating in Victory Lane to conclude the 2004 season in November. Danny Lasoski established the track record in the March 2004 event when he circled the half-mile oval in 13.719 seconds, or 131.205 mph. Lasoski, Steve Kinser and Mark Kinser are three-time winners at Vegas.
PREVIOUS WINNERS: Donny Schatz on Nov. 6, 2004; Steve Kinser on March 5, 2004; Danny Lasoski on Nov. 1, 2003; Tim Shaffer on March 1, 2003; Steve Kinser on Nov. 9, 2002; Steve Kinser on March 2, 2002; Andy Hillenburg on Nov. 3, 2001; Danny Lasoski on March 4, 2001; Sammy Swindell on Nov. 1, 2000; Jac Haudenschild on March 4, 2000; Donny Schatz on Nov. 3, 1999; Danny Lasoski on March 6, 1999; Mark Kinser on Nov. 5, 1998; Mark Kinser on Feb. 28, 1998; Jeff Swindell on Nov. 5, 1997; Jeff Swindell on Feb. 7, 1997; and Mark Kinser on Nov. 6, 1996.
NEWS & NOTES
* The soggy desert boys: The World of Outlaws Sprint Series is coming off of wet weekend of racing at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix. After Craig Dollansky slipped past Danny Lasoski to win the opening night of the Cactus Classic, severe thunderstorms and overnight rain forced the postponement of the finale to Oct. 11, 2005. Dollansky, Lasoski, Steve Kinser and Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year leader Shane Stewart are locked into the dash when the series returns to Manzanita in the fall.
* Championship battle: Yes, it's very early in a season that features more than 90 race nights, but Steve Kinser, a 19-time champion and three time winner at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, is back atop the point standings once again. This time, though, he's facing the most competitive field from top to bottom in the history of the series. Last season, more than 20 different drivers visited Victory Lane on the World of Outlaws circuit and many racers believe that number will be higher in 2005. The driver closest to Kinser right now is Craig Dollansky, an Elk River, Minn., native who has won the past two A-mains -- Bakersfield Speedway and the preliminary at Manzanita Speedway -- and is only six points behind Kinser. Also strong early on have been Jason Meyers, who has finished in the top 10 five times this season; and Mark Kinser, a former series champion who seems rejuvenated in a new ride this year owned by Californian Rick Wright.
* A long commute: Racers on the World of Outlaws Sprint Series circuit are accustomed to long drives from event to event, but Brooke Tatnell completed one of the series' most remarkable commutes Friday night at Manzanita Speedway. Tatnell, who just wrapped up the Australian Sprintcar Championship, completed a near 36-hour journey from his native Australia, through Los Angeles and eventually to Phoenix. He arrived at the track after 3 p.m., and still managed to climb into his No. 8 Rush Racing machine and post the ninth-fastest time, finish third in his heat, finish second in a dash and conclude the night with a fifth-place run in the A-main. Not bad for a day's work.
* The rookie race: The battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award will be almost as intense as the one for the overall championship. Three drivers -- Shane Stewart, Tim Kaeding and Brandon Wimmer -- are in the running right now. Stewart, a native of Bixby, Okla., is leading the way in his Rudeen Racing powered by mIn Motorsports machine. Stewart has been consistently tough all season, posting top-10 finishes at Volusia Speedway Park and Thunderbowl Raceway, in addition to his fourth-place run in the Cactus Classic preliminary Friday night at Manzanita Speedway. -- In the past three race nights, Kaeding has been very fast. He was on his way to victory at Thunderbowl Raceway when he got together with a lapped car late in the A-main and dropped out of contention. -- Wimmer, 18, has also been coming on strong while working what is in essence two jobs. In addition to racing, Wimmer is maintaining a high GPA as he approaches his high school graduation in May.
* A future Outlaw in Vegas: Seven-year-old karting superstar Jordan Thomas will be testing Friday in Las Vegas. With sponsorship from The Outdoor Channel and the World of Outlaws, Thomas will practice at the X Plex Las Vegas Motorsports Racepark and then head to The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for all the action in the J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals feature. In addition, fans will be able to see Thomas as he takes the passenger seat in The Outdoor Channel's two-seat winged sprint car, which will be driven by Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year contender and Mean 15 racer Brandon Wimmer. Thomas competes in the World Karting Association's Manufacturer's Cup West division, and will be racing at X Plex April 1-3.
* Who to watch at Vegas: Sure, chances are Steve Kinser, Craig Dollansky, Donny Schatz and Danny Lasoski will be up front Thursday and Friday nights, but keep an eye on Daryn Pittman. He's been consistently fast this season had his best career run at Vegas in November when he finished second to Donny Schatz. Pittman, who has encountered more than his fair share of unfortunate racing luck so far this season, is in his new ride with Reeve Kruck-owned Titan Racing. In 2005, Kruck will be the first Australian car owner to compete on the Outlaws circuit for a full season.
* Ride of a lifetime: Want to be Steve Kinser or Danny Lasoski for a day? Some lucky fans will get that opportunity at this week's J.D. Byrider World of Outlaws Nationals. Each night a fan will have the opportunity to slide into the seat of The Outdoor Channel's two-seat winged sprint car driven my a member of the Mean 15, the best collection of sprint car racers in the world. The lucky fans will experience the thrill of a lifetime as they reach speeds of 100 miles per hour. Dirt will fly as the chosen two try to catch their breath somewhere between the wide-open acceleration on the straightaways and flying through the turns.
* Do we hear three? Longtime sprint car owner and supporter Lonny Parsons earned his first victory last fall after putting Tim Shaffer in his No. 6 Casey's General Store car in the early summer. Shaffer gave Parsons win No. 2 last month at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., and he has had success at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Shaffer won at Vegas in March 2003.
* Fast DNA: Kevin Swindell can't help being fast, it's in his genes. Swindell, 16, is the son of sprint car legend and three-time Outlaws champion Sammy Swindell. In January and still at 15, Swindell became the youngest racer to finish in the top 10 of a World of Outlaws main event when he took the checkered flag in sixth place at Parramatta City Raceway in Australia. Swindell, who was a highly successful kart racer, has made the transition to 410 sprint cars under the guidance of his father, who is racing for Guy Forbrook. While some of his rides this season might have been rough, there's no doubt the younger Swindell is going to be quick. In fact, in the opener to the Cactus Classic Friday at half-mile Manzanita Speedway, he set the fast time of 15.595 seconds, or 115.422 mph.
* The Mean 15: The impressive 2005 edition of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series' Mean 15 racers includes Craig Dollansky (No. 7 owned by Karavan Motorsports), Tim Kaeding (No. 83 owned by Dennis Roth), Kraig Kinser (No. 11k owned by Steve Kinser Racing), Mark Kinser (No. 35 owned by Rick Wright), Steve Kinser (No. 11 owned by Steve Kinser Racing), Danny Lasoski (No. 20 owned by Tony Stewart Motorsports), Paul McMahan (No. 11h owned by David Helm), Jason Meyers (No. 14 owned by the Elite Racing Team), Brian Paulus (No. 28 owned by Pender Motorsports), Daryn Pittman (No. 21 owned by Titan Racing), Joey Saldana (No. 2 owned by Woodward Racing), Donny Schatz (No. 15 owned by Schatz Motorsports), Tim Shaffer (No. 6 owned by Parsons Motorsports), Jason Sides (No. 7s owned by Sides Motorsports), and Brandon Wimmer (No. 7tw owned by Wimmer-Luck Racing).
* On tour, too: Several other drivers have committed to running the bulk of the schedule with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series in 2005 with hopes of earning a spot in a future Mean 15. In addition to Australian Brooke Tatnell, who finally was able to climb into his Rush Racing car last weekend at Manzanita, this group of racers includes Terry McCarl, who has won the past six 410 sprint championships at Knoxville Raceway; Shane Stewart, the current leader in the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year title; Randy Hannagan, a long-time Outlaws competitor and former track record holder at Las Vegas; Sammy Swindell, a sprint car legend and three-time Outlaws champion; and Kevin Swindell, a recently turned 16-year-old who became the youngest driver to finish in the top 10 with the Outlaws when finished sixth in the feature at Parramatta City Raceway in January.
* Early season winners: Through five events, there have been five different winners. Donny Schatz captured the opener in Australia followed by Jeff Shepard and Steve Kinser at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., Tim Shaffer at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., and Craig Dollansky at Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale, Calif. Dollansky also won the Cactus Classic preliminary A-main Friday night at Manzanita Speedway.
* Race review: Last March on the Vegas dirt track, Steve Kinser was untouchable. After winning the preliminary, he started the A-main feature on the pole and led all 30 laps to earn career victory No. 499. In the race last November, Donny Schatz grabbed the lead from Daryn Pittman and drove off with the victory, one night after Danny Lasoski dominated the preliminary event. Lasoski had engine trouble in the dash the following night and used a provisional to start the A-main after changing engines.
* Tune into the Web: If fans can't get to Las Vegas to see the racing Thursday and Friday, they can experience the excitement of the World of Outlaws Sprint Series live on Dirtvision.com through the new DIRT Radio Network, where announcer John Gibson keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the event. To listen to the audio broadcasts, log on to www.dirtvision.com and click on the DIRT Radio Network logo. Listeners will need Windows Media Player 9 or higher to listen to the DIRT Radio Network. Companies who are interested in advertising on the new DIRT Radio Network should contact Mark Noble, DIRT MotorSports VP Sales and Marketing, at 719-884-2141. For technical support or questions, e-mail email@example.com.
* Hear it firsthand: RACEceiver is the Official Driver Communicator of DIRT MotorSports. A compact radio receiver that conveniently fits into a driver's pocket, a RACEceiver allows each driver to hear directions from series officials, which greatly enhances the safety and timeliness of events. A similar version available to fans will allow RACEceiver users to hear what information series officials are relaying to the drivers. For more information about RACEceiver, visit www.raceceiver.com, call 866-301-7223, or look for their sales trailers at various events.
Larry Woodward, owner of the No. 2 Volcano Joe's Coffee car driven by Joey Saldana
* On racing in Las Vegas: "That's our premier racetrack, really. We all like Vegas. Just the whole ambience and the whole deal makes everybody look professional."
Danny Lasoski, driver of the Tony Stewart Motorsports No. 20 Bass Pro Shops machine
* On the Manzanita weather delay: "We've got a rain date and it's rescheduled, but we were all geared up and ready to go. Now we just have to look toward Vegas, where it's basically the same type of racetrack so the cars will be basically the same. We had a perfect starting position on the outside of the front row. We thought we had a really good shot of winning. We'll just have to carry this momentum over to Vegas and see what that brings."
* On continuing the momentum from qualifying well at Manzanita after struggling early in this season: "We as a team, meaning my crew chief Jimmy Carr, Todd Splain and all my guys, understand this business. You have a lot of ups and a lot of downs. The teams that stick together, even during the bad times, are the ones that prevail at the end of the year and have the most success. Those guys know we've been struggling with our engine program this year. Paul Kistler and everybody with Mopar is doing their best to rectify that. We know when we get it right we're going to be a contender every night."
* On having car owner Tony Stewart at the event because NASCAR also is racing at Las Vegas this weekend: "It's a great deal for him, being a car owner he gets to come watch his car run. Johnny Morris from [team sponsor] Bass Pro Shops is going to be there also, so it's a win-win for me.
* On working with Tony Stewart: "He's total hands on. He wants to be part of the team, changing gears, grooving tires. That's Tony's personality. He wants to be a 100 percent supporter of this team and he does that."
* On racing in Las Vegas: "Las Vegas is a big fast half mile and I love running there. We've had some success and hopefully we can go back there and take some of Chris Powell's money. Everyone has a great time when they go out there. I know everybody is excited to get there, but really excited to leave after they lose all their money."
Jason Meyers, driver of the Elite Racing Team No. 14 car
* On racing in Las Vegas: "I've never been to Vegas without being there to race, so I've never gotten to enjoy the city. There's a lot of concentration and focus from us as racecar drivers to be there to race and to be there to win. The whole Western swing is a good time, and Vegas is a wonderful facility that we enjoy going to."
Tim Shaffer, driver of the Parsons Motorsports No. 6 Casey's General Stores car
* On racing in Las Vegas: "I think it's more fun for the wives when we go to Vegas. I just look forward to going anywhere, honestly."
Daryn Pittman, driver of the Titan Motorsports No. 21 car
* On racing in Las Vegas: "I actually enjoy the racetrack. I never had any success there until last fall when I had a chance to win. Vegas is always good to go to and a lot of fun. The people we get to be around in Vegas are good for everybody."
The World of Outlaws Sprints Series races March 18 at Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss., and March 19 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, before taking a weekend off.